Documents de l’histoire du Québec / Quebec History Documents
Quebec and Confederation
There seems to be everywhere, throughout British America, a common feeling that this day, July the First, will mark an epoch in the political history of America, we may add of mankind. It is the commencement of a new system for the large portion of the continent. A group of northern British Colonies are, by Act of Imperial Parliament, constituted a DOMINION and this day, by Proclamation of the Queen which will be read in the most formal way by Mayors of cities, and other public officers, throughout its entire extent, the new existence begins its national life.
The day, by proclamation of the several governments which heretofore existed in all the colonies to be united, is a holiday; and it will in future years be observed and henceforth know as DOMINION DAY. It is well that the people should so observe it, and give one day’s rest from their several avocations to celebrate and contemplate the great political event.
Colony implies the political status of adolescence; but Dominion implies power, and the political status of manhood; it implies also responsibility. It does not imply that the connection with the mother country is severed or even weakened. But that the relations between parent and offspring are placed on a new basis, in view of the actual growth of the latter; which will now act more for itself, and put forth more of the effort the responsibility of a new state calls for. The guardianship of the mother country for the next decade of its political life, constituting an offensive and defensive alliance, to the last man and the last dollar, will be necessary for its political independence. The bond, thought different in its nature, will be cherished with the same affection – with the same religious reverence, as has been the colonial state.
The people who set up this new Dominion are about Four Millions in number. They are mainly the descendants of the two foremost nations in the world which have led the van of modern civilization. The colonists possess the gathered fruits of that civilization and they have not lost any of the energy of the parent stock, but have rather been quickened by the climatic influences and associations of the new world.
The country they inhabit is one of immense extent, and immense resources. Its geographical features are of the grandest kind. The shore line of its lakes and rivers is counted by thousands of miles. The pole being at its back, it extends its arms to two oceans. It has a magnificent river entrance at the East, and at the West magnificent harbours. It has agricultural, commercial, manufacturing, mineral and fishery resources, on a scale corresponding with its physical features. It has a generally uniform temperate climatic zone; and in this we see a future common interest of the people and homogeneousness of race. It is only people that live in a generally uniform climatic zone that are homogeneous and have common interests; and that zone in North America which is temperate, comprises quite a narrow belt running generally East and West. The line North and South makes almost as much difference in the habits and feelings of men, as in the growth of plants. The comparatively dense and very energetic population of the Northern States, that in the recent war of sections (it would be a misnomer to call it a civil war) overcame the South, have not conquered a union of friendship, but of the very bitterest political enmity, that profoundly penetrates society, and which infants suckle with the milk from their mothers’ breasts. This sectional difference has grown from difference of climate, and the line is very sharply drawn. In looking at the political relations of the continent, and the future of this Dominion, this fact first looms up in view; and our neighbours, if they are not blind, will see in the people who live to the north of them, better friends and more generous rivalry than they will find for generations, or ever, in the people of the Southern States.
The British flag will wave everywhere throughout this Dominion today; and it only remains for the people to be true to themselves to work out a great political problem and a glorious and prosperous destiny.
May the new Dominion maintain a separate and independent status – may it live for ever!
Source: Montreal Gazette. July 1, 1867, p. 2. Article transcribed by Joelle Krasny; revision by Claude Bélanger.
© 2009 Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College